Consolidated HR is a full-service, nationwide human resources outsourcing firm specializing in payroll, employee benefits, and more. “We work with a variety of different firms, ranging from small family ran businesses, to larger multi-state companies,” says CHR Benefits Supervisor Delores M. Torres. “We help our clients focus on growing their businesses while we help with back-end HR, payroll, and benefits.”
DBL Center has been providing the short-term disability policies for CHR clients in New York and New Jersey for many years.
When Torres connected with DBL Center’s Vice President of Ancillary Sales Lori S. Rose, they decided it was time to explore ways to provide CHR clients with even more value by offering Group Life insurance and other ancillary lines of coverage.
DBL Center started by moving CHR’s existing group life insurance lines to another carrier to provide better benefits and lower premiums.
Working with DBL Center gave CHR access to lines and pricing the HR outsourcing company may not have gotten on its own and helped ensure all the paperwork was in compliance. Access to DBL Center’s exclusive Broker Dashboard can help CHR track policy renewals and revenue moving forward.
The next step was reviewing CHR’s open enrollment files to give CHR clients a chance to opt in to these voluntary, employee-funded benefits.
DBL Center’s legendary service and support helped Torres tackle an arduous task.
“The support and follow-up from Lori Rose has been phenomenal,” Torres says. “She has really helped reduce my stress. With it being the end of the year and such a busy time for everyone, she’s been so understanding.”
Group Life insurance may be a hard sell, so it’s important for brokers to convey to employers that these benefits can be offered at no cost to the company.
“Our clients tend to downplay the ancillary lines,” Torres says. “We have to explain that they can make it available to their employees with no out-of-pocket costs to the company.”
It helps to emphasize that voluntary benefits like Group Life can aid in recruiting and retention, especially for companies looking to attract the next generations of talent.
“Employees in their mid-30s and younger are more open to exploring what else is available in the way of employee benefits and they want the extra lines of coverage,” Torres observes.
Torres’ assertion corresponds with a recent Pew Research study that shows millennials to be the most risk-averse generation since The Great Depression. As millennials finally start paying off their college loans, getting married, and buying houses, purchasing life insurance is a smart, low-risk step to ensure their family’s security if something should happen to them. Other ancillary lines of coverage, such as dental and vision, can help them save money on day-to-day or emergency expenses.
Likewise, Generation X employees can benefit from life insurance investments as they age and have more responsibilities, including a mortgage, college costs for their children, and even the expense of caring for aging parents.
“The follow-up we have to do to show our clients the importance of ancillary benefits can be overwhelming,” Torres says. “But DBL Center understands the hurdles we have to overcome and is always there to help with information and back-office support.”
In the end, it’s worth the effort.
Group Life insurance and ancillary benefits can help brokers and HR firms like Consolidated HR expand their book-of-business while helping their clients’ employees secure a better financial future for their families.
by Dawn Allcot
Paid Family Leave became a fact of life in New York very quickly. The statutory benefit, written as a rider to DBL coverage, is ethically responsible and financially needed for New York families. But business owners and brokers weren’t prepared for the mayhem that PFL billing would bring.
I sat down with our President and CEO Michael Cohen so he could explain the challenges of PFL and how DBL Center has found solutions to these challenges for its brokers.
Once we got past the initial customer education aspects of PFL – letting our brokers and their customers know about this new benefit – we faced the additional hurdle of PFL billing. The New York State government implemented this policy to be phased in over four years, without proper recourse when it comes to giving carriers or brokers the information they need to calculate costs or to bill DBL with a PFL rider correctly.
This has resulted in a higher than normal level of non-pay notifications. New York businesses, large and small, are having their DBL policies cancelled due to billing errors and inconsistencies stemming from this misinformation and miscommunication.
Here at The DBL Center, we are tracking our brokers’ policyholders who are currently in non-pay status, and sharing that information with the broker, so they can fix the issues and increase their book’s retention.
Writing new policies is one thing, but growing a business is not just about how much money you make – it’s about how much money you keep.
Behind the scenes, the DBL Center has been working, just as our brokers’ accounting departments have, to find ways to accurately bill PFL.
I began an audit one year ago while coming up with a snapshot of my agency’s statutory book of disability in New York to have a benchmark of what to expect. This put me in a better position to finalize the Broker Dashboard and Net Revenue Tracker, which emanated from the manual methods my father, founder David J. Cohen was using to balance his general ledger.
I realized I could not only turn something antiquated around, but also convert the database we used for our audit into a free Dashboard given to my producers, allowing them to track revenue and policy status for DBL, PFL, and ancillary benefits.
The launch of the dashboard on September 26, 2018 represents an important piece in solving the PFL puzzle.
The Net Revenue Tracker, its more robust companion app, allows brokers to track all policies within their brokerage – not just those purchased through and managed by The DBL Center.
Quite honestly, if carriers can’t accurately bill PFL, our brokers will be looking at even more unhappy customers when the rate rises.
Our Broker Dashboard provides a solution. In addition to tracking revenue for DBL policies and ancillary benefits, the Broker Dashboard lets brokers know when a policy has been cancelled or is pending cancellation.
Sometimes, the customer has gone out of business, moved out of New York, or decided to move their business to another agency due to no fault of the broker. That’s important information for a broker to be aware of.
For those policies listed as “cancelled for non-payment” or “pending cancellation,” PFL billing errors may be to blame.
That’s where DBL Center can help. Thanks to our extensive knowledge of PFL and our relationships with carriers, we can get to the heart of your customers’ PFL problems. We can prevent those policies from cancelling or even have policies reinstated, while helping to preserve important customer relationships.
Your customers trust you. Our brokers can trust DBL Center to navigate PFL until the program starts to run itself, resulting in streams of reliable passive income.
Our Broker Dashboard helps you find out where you’re losing money, and DBL Center’s legendary white-glove service can help you make it right.
We know that implementing PFL hasn’t been the easiest thing our brokers have ever faced. We know this because the DBL Center has been tackling the same challenges. When our brokers make money, we make money. We’re all in this together.
You can continue to look at DBL as either a challenge – or an opportunity.
By continuing to sell DBL and letting DBL Center service the policies through our experienced back-office staff, you have the opportunity to show your customers the true value and worth of relying on your brokerage. Business owners need DBL and PFL coverage. If they don’t get it from you, they will find another broker willing to provide it.
You can use our Broker Dashboard to stay proactive and solve your customers’ PFL problems – potentially even before your policyholder is aware of an issue.
Let DBL Center help you provide your customers with answers to all their PFL billing questions, and you will maintain their trust. They will continue to rely on you for workers’ compensation insurance, major medical, and ancillary lines of coverage.
You’ll watch your bottom line continue to rise as your book of business grows.
It all begins with having the tools on hand to retain your current customers and our Broker Dashboard, combined with our white-glove customer service, can help our brokers stand out from the competition.
Incorporated as The DBL Center Ltd. since 1983, The DBL Center has many long-time, second generation clients. But few brokers have stories steeped in such rich New York history as Richard King, owner of King Associates.
Richard King was mentored by the late David Cohen, landing prestigious accounts that included The Garden City Hotel and Fairhaven Apartments when DBL Center was a brand-new wholesale insurance agency.
Later, King sponsored DBL Center President Michael Cohen’s admission into The Friars Club, the preeminent members-only club for entertainment professionals located in a five-story English Renaissance Tudor in Midtown Manhattan.
King says the key factor that has prevailed across two generations of DBL Center management is the enthusiasm of the team, which King shares as he reminisces about his mentors, offers tips for brokers, and talks about his involvement with the Friars and how it can help an insurance broker.
How did you first meet David Cohen and start doing business with The DBL Center?
I think David may have cold-called me, because he was very aggressive – just like my dad. I have to give you a bit of the history. It was because of my dad, Murray King, that Dave and I did business together.
My dad was raised in the Bronx with four brothers. When he grew up and got married, he became a math professor at City College. Then he started selling insurance with Hancock, in the 1940s, because he didn’t have a job one summer.
Selling door-to-door in Harlem, he made it big, with a lot of persistence through the years, as a one-man show.
I introduced Dave to my Dad, who was a powerhouse life insurance broker at the time. Dave loved Murray because they were both characters.
Murray was handling life insurance at the time for top real estate developers on Long Island, like Myron Nelkin, who built Fairhaven Apartments and the Garden City Hotel.
So we wrote life insurance and DBL for Fairhaven Apartments – 2,500 units – and the Garden City Hotel through DBL Center. I also handled a printing firm of about 400 other companies, and other Long Island businesses.
Dave was my guy.
What was it like doing business with DBL Center back then, 35 years ago?
I was writing life insurance and DBL. I would use DBL as the foot in the door, because nobody knew about it. Nobody knew it was an employer-funded, state-mandated benefit.
Back then, as far as back office support, it was all Eugene [Puleo]. Eugene was invaluable. Even after all these years, Eugene offers superb back office support, giving me prodigious confidence, accuracy, and the ability to make sales.
How was it different selling DBL back then from now?
It was all about in-person contact. There was no email. There were no excuses or delays because of the electronic convenience aspect. You did not have to wait for someone to reply. You did everything in person.
You made an appointment, you went in, and whether you were successful or not was up to you.
Dave abided by one-on-one communications. He had superior communication skills, just like my Dad. I was fortunate to have them both as mentors.
What set David and DBL Center apart from others in the industry back then?
The key word there is enthusiasm.
David Cohen had it. Murray had it. I had it. Certainly, Michael [Cohen, DBL Center President] has it. Beyond the education and everything else we need to sell insurance, enthusiasm is the key difference.
When someone sees our enthusiasm, we make the sale. Today, if I go in with Michael, we’re getting the client.
Tell us where the Friars Club connection comes in.
I met Michael when he was right out of college, and I remember thinking he had a great voice. Like his dad, communication was his strength.
I started talking to Michael about the Friars Club, and he said he wanted to join. I had been on the admissions committee for many years, and I’d been a member for 25 years, very involved with the club. So, I said, “Let’s go.”
He was the perfect candidate, so I sponsored his induction.
Michael has done a great job promoting DBL in conjunction with the Friars Club, booking comedians through the club, bringing clients there, and using it for networking.
For those who may not be familiar, what are the benefits of networking within the Friars Club?
The Friars Club is the largest entertainment club in the country, and it’s great networking. Two-thirds of the members are professional entertainers and the other one-third are non-professionals. But the celebrities and the non-celebrities are all on the same level.
When you bring clients there, you are including them in something special here in New York. You’re entertaining them like no other agent can.
Merging business with entertainment – that’s something Murray and David were brilliant at, and now Michael is doing it.
If you bring a prospect to the Friars Club, they are not leaving without becoming a client.
To learn more about booking comedians through the Friars Club for a holiday party or special event, call The DBL Center now.
Did you know that 98 percent of NJ TDB temporary disability benefits policies are written by the state?
Even though privatized TDB provides better service and faster payouts than state-funded temporary disability insurance in New Jersey, most business owners don’t know privatized TDB is an option for themselves and their employees.
For New Jersey brokers, this represents a tremendous opportunity for increased revenue. Even though commissions may not be as high as carriers offer for some other types of insurance, including ancillary benefits, the total commissions can add up over time.
NJ TDB is a mandatory benefit, and once a broker has a company signed up for privatized TDB, they are likely to continue renewing year after year, providing largely passive income for brokers.
And the State of New Jersey now has legislation in the works which could make it even easier for brokers to help their customers privatize their TDB.
Based on NJ temporary disability benefits law, any private TDB coverage must be equal to state-funded benefit amounts and duration of payments and have the same (or more liberal) eligibility requirements as the State Plan all at the same rates or better.
In addition to equal payments, which private NJ TDB must offer by law, many privatized plans also have faster service, payment choices in the form of direct deposit or a debit card, and an easier claims process.
The state of New Jersey is struggling to keep up with claims.
It often takes as long as four weeks from the date the claim is filed to begin paying claimants. In some cases, employees are back to work before they even begin to receive their disability benefits.
Often, this results in an already-overworked HR department spending time to help employees chase down their benefits. It can also affect employee morale and retention rates within a company.
Currently, to switch to a private TDB insurance plan in New Jersey, employers must get signatures from 50 % + 1 of the employees in a company before making the switch.
But the New Jersey State legislature has introduced a new bill that would waive the signature requirement for employers to switch to privatized TDB.
This eliminates one stumbling block brokers now face in getting their customers to switch their NJ TDB policies to a private carrier.
Private TDB insurance offers equal (or better) benefits, faster payout times, and less red tape for employers, all at the same rates as the State Plan.
If someone were to offer you an equal or better product at the same price, wouldn’t you accept it?
If the State of NJ waives signature requirements to switch TDB to a private carrier, it removes the last stumbling block for acceptance.
But the responsibility will rest with brokers to let their customers know that privatized TDB is an option, that it is easier to obtain than ever before, and that it can vastly improve the level of service businesses receive when it comes to TDB claims.
As January 1 approaches and employers begin renewing their TDB policies and getting ready to sign on for another year with the state, brokers in New Jersey should write to their legislators and request that the state waive the signature requirement for switching to a private TDB carrier.
Then, begin a campaign to let your customers know private TDB is an option.
Use email marketing, blog posts, social media, webinars, and printed handouts to spread the word. Network at local business events. Write an article for your local paper.
The market is wide open, with 98 percent of New Jersey businesses still writing their TDB coverage with the state. It’s your turn to carve a slice of that pie.
Reach out to existing customers who write their other insurance lines with your company and let them know you can offer them a better product at the same price the state of New Jersey offers. Use your reputation for white-glove customer service to sell TDB.
And let DBL Center help manage your TDB accounts, putting commissions in your pockets with a minimum of work on your part.
Need help getting your customers to switch?
DBL Center provides white-label, white-glove, concierge-level service to help brokers earn more.
Reach out to us today.
Centric Benefits Consulting of New Providence, NJ, is a small retail broker specializing in healthcare and ancillary benefits for businesses of every size, from two to 2,000 lives. “Our customers represent a solid cross-section of New Jersey businesses, which is primarily small businesses under 100 lives, but also larger corporations,” says Brian Reilly, vice president for Centric Benefits Consulting.
Explaining that each Centric Benefits broker has their own specialty niche, he notes that he primarily works with organizations in the public sector such as charter schools.
Industry colleague Lori Rose, now AVP of ancillary lines for DBL Center, recently encouraged Reilly to shop his ancillary benefits packages through DBL Center. As a new DBL Center customer, he says he was exceptionally pleased with the process, the service, and the pricing.
Reilly had worked with Rose in her previous role at a dental carrier. Seeing Lori’s excitement over working with DBL Center, Reilly decided it was worth taking a chance. “If Lori was that excited to be joining DBL Center, it told me a lot about the company,” he says.
“Lori helped me deliver a better product at a better price for a client with dental coverage,” he says. “She also helped us win a customer who had been using us for healthcare and wanted to expand into ancillary benefits. Lori put together a fantastic package of dental and vision benefits.”
Reilly says he likes the convenience of getting quotes from a multitude of carriers through one contact, combined with DBL Center’s analysis of those quotes. “They pointed out the nuances behind each policy, so I knew what I was asking my clients to buy. It helped me find the best fit for my client.”
Reilly notes that DBL Center “outperformed expectations” immediately with the first account, and he had no hesitation to shop a second policy through the wholesaler.
“There are brokers who think they will lose out on commissions by working through an insurance wholesaler,” Reilly says. “But working with DBL Center has really added value – for myself and for my customers.”
He continues, “One thing that really impressed me: Shortly after I started working with DBL Center, owner Michael Cohen called me. That showed the attention DBL Center gives to each of its customers. For the company president to call a new broker, who is part of a small agency – it was very classy and made me feel good about the relationship.”
Reilly mainly deals in medical benefits, ancillary benefits such as vision and dental, and some long-term disability. But he is always open to cross-selling opportunities.
If he is going to sell a product, he wants to make sure he has the knowledge, support, and insurance industry relationships to do it right.
Reilly says DBL Center opens doors for him to sell TDB in New Jersey in the future, along with growing his ancillary benefits and long-term disability sales.
“I haven’t put a lot of time or effort into TDB coverage in the past because I didn’t want to be stretched too thin. But now I can go into TDB, especially when the rate change is announced in November, knowing I will have the support to do it right,” he says. “With DBL Center, I found a path and a partner that allows me to look at lines of coverage I haven’t dedicated the resources to pursuing.”
Although Reilly is typically very cautious about new endeavors, he’s actively recommending DBL Center to his colleagues at Centric Benefits Consulting, too.
“I tend to dip my toe in the water, first, before jumping into anything full force,” Reilly says. “But DBL Center made it worthwhile to jump in. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to partner with Lori and DBL Center.”
As you know if you’ve been reading our blog or have been talking to members of our team, The DBL Center has achieved several milestone growth markers in 2018. In addition to our new offices and achieving the milestone this summer of writing 1 million lives, and servicing and insuring 32,000 corporations annually.
Are you an insurance broker ready to grow your business? Before you start doubling or tripling your sales figures, it’s important to consider how you will manage high volume business.
Managing a handful of companies under 50 lives is not the same as servicing thousands of corporations with 1,000+ employees each.
Your marketing, customer education tools, management software, and your employees all need to be ready for the change. DBL Center can help.
Let’s look at the five elements you’ll need in place as part of your growth plan.
1. Consider your customer retention.
Before you can expand, you have to ensure you are keeping the customers you have – large and small. If you start losing customers, you are just trading one account for another and not really growing. It costs more in time and money to gain and onboard new clients than it does to maintain existing customers, so focus on retention as the first stage of your growth plan.
2. Set tangible goals and put a plan in place to achieve them.
As business expert Zig Ziglar says, “A goal carefully planned is halfway reached.” Perform a business analysis and determine where you want to be in six months, a year, and maybe even three years. DBL Center recently started offering incentives for writing new DBL business with us. Setting a goal to qualify for these incentives could be a good place to start.
3. Emphasize customer education.
Our PFL resource center helps set us apart, contributing to our inbound marketing efforts in 2018. We also introduced webinars about PFL and NRT, giving our brokers the tools and information they need to educate their customers. These efforts, combined with a solid marketing plan, tangible goals, and hiring employees specializing in the areas we aimed to grow, all led to a highly successful year for DBL Center.
4. Make sure you have the support you need.
Consider your CRM, bookkeeping, and sales software to ensure you can handle the volume. The Net Revenue Tracker (NRT) powered by DBL Center may be able to help you track renewals, commissions, and revenue, making it easier to retain customers and also see how close you are to achieving the goals you set.
You also want employees in place who can manage high-volume, high-pressure accounts.
Having an insurance wholesaler like DBL Center in your corner to provide white-glove, white-label service can help when you are ready to pursue the next stage of growth.
5. Keep your eyes on the pulse of the industry to be in the right place at the right time.
Back in 2012, Zurich Insurance Company left the New York State DBL market. Then Hurricane Sandy hit, wreaking havoc on the insurance industry and leaving P&C brokers scrambling to cover losses totaling $19 billion.
Knowing there was an industry shake-up coming due to the Affordable Care Act, even before Sandy, The DBL Center under the leadership of David Cohen was set to make a move.
The DBL Center began promoting enriched DBL coverage in New York, opening a gateway to greater profits for our brokers.
In 2017, DBL Center was on the forefront of reporting on the introduction of Paid Family Leave in New York. As part of our strategic marketing initiatives, we provided brokers with the resources they needed to explain the benefit to their customers. We also gave them access to the carriers who were able to write the PFL rider and incentives for moving their business.
As PFL announces its next increase, to go into effect in January 2019, we will be there to guide brokers.
Meanwhile, we continue to watch the industry and see what may be on the horizon, constantly innovating new ways to help our brokers.
For instance, our NRT app fills a unique need for brokers who provide DBL, PFL, TDB, and other employee benefits.
If you are looking to grow your business, manually tracking accounts or using siloed software that doesn’t meet all your needs will no longer work.
As we step into the future with advanced technology and new profit opportunities, we are excited to help our brokers who want to join us.
Are you ready to grow with us?
The DBL Center held some in house celebrations last week as we settled into our new Melville, Long Island office. But it’s not just our employees who benefit from our continued growth.
Thanks to the industry relationships we have fostered over the past 40 years as a wholesale general agency, we are in a position to offer brokers industry-high base commissions as well as bonuses for consolidating their book of business with DBL Center.
When you consolidate your book of business with DBL Center through select carriers, you’ll receive a 22.5% base commission, and a one-time bonus based on the dollar value of the new business.
When you move between $20,000 and $99,999, you’ll earn a 5% bonus on all new business. Earn a 10% one-time bonus if your book, including DBL policies under and over 50 lives, is between $100,000 and $149,000.
DBL Center is making it easy for you to move your book of business. Simply reach out to us for a spreadsheet detailing the information we need from you to help your customers make the switch. There is no need to fill out a new application for each case. Once the new policies are issued, you can cancel the existing in-force policies, save your customers money, and cash in on bonuses and generous commissions.
Earn More with PFL
These broker incentives are a direct result of the introduction of PFL, a mandatory benefit written as a rider to DBL coverage in NY.
Not every carrier is writing PFL riders, so you may be in the process of helping your customers switch carriers. By letting DBL Center shop around for DBL policies for both under and over 50 lives, you may earn better commissions on PFL. DBL Center rewards you for a business move you may have to make, anyway.
PFL has had a huge learning curve for everyone, and our brokers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work and knowledge they provide to their customers. Together with our carrier partners, we are helping PFL pay off for our brokers.
Why It Pays to Consolidate Your Book of Business
If you aren’t using DBL Center for DBL over and under 50 lives, you could be missing out on high commissions, bonuses, white-glove service, and the convenience of using one wholesale general agency for your whole book of statutory business. Having one point of contact, a professional you can trust if you have questions or need personalized service, is always easier. As DBL Center continues to grow, we can offer even more to our loyal brokers.
This fall, we will introduce our new broker dashboard, making it even easier for you to track all your DBL business and revenue from one intuitive app.
The DBL Center team keeps working hard to offer our brokers more and to make it easy to do business with us.
With our new broker incentives package, there was never a better time to trust us to write your disability policies, ancillary benefits packages, and more.
Let us know how DBL Center can serve you today.
The DBL Center held a summer celebration at Prime in Huntington on the Long Island Sound.
The team, led by Michael Cohen, has plenty to celebrate in 2018. We have a new office in Melville and we’re getting set for the launch of our Broker Dashboard this fall, followed by the introduction of our Net Revenue Tracker (NRT) software.
We’d like to take this chance to give you a peek into life at DBL Center.
You’ll get to know us a little bit better. And maybe understand exactly how – and why – white-glove service is a core part of our company mission and how important our brokers are to us.
The DBL Center has always been a family-owned company. And our employees are a lot like family, too.
With this in mind, picture your most boisterous family meal, and you could imagine our lunch at Prime.
There was lots of great food, many laughs, and great stories from great storytellers. (We have many in the DBL extended family). As the conversation meandered to family traditions, there were strong reminders of where we came from and some talk of where we are going.
Our new office at 155 Pinelawn Road in Melville, a few miles south of our prior location and near prestigious Long Island companies like Newsday and Estee Lauder, gives The DBL Center more space and more amenities. With room to grow within our suite, the office boasts an open floor plan that allows our team to work more closely in alignment. We are all here to help each other.
On a summer Friday afternoon, the office spaces are filled with laughter. The atmosphere makes us more eager to work and happy to provide our brokers with the service they expect. Productivity, creativity, and idea-sharing are all enhanced as DBL Center prepares to enter its next stage of growth.
In the doorway of the office suite to greet visitors and employees is an original drawn portrait of founder David Cohen by local artist and family friend John D. Herz, who David often called, “the Michelangelo of the #2 pencil.” The image reminds us, daily, of why it’s so important to continue living up to our founder’s vision of white-glove service.
Of course, the new office space boasts all the expected amenities. New, ergonomic office chairs were specially chosen for our employees’ comfort and enhanced productivity. In addition to the large conference table in the common area, there is a conference space in president Michael Cohen’s office, where he records our popular webinar series that covers topics like Paid Family Leave, and a screen to show WebEx demos of our new NRT software to brokers.
As DBL Center continues to expand in every way, we have more resources to serve our brokers better, faster, and with the level of attention you expect and deserve. Our webinars and website are just a few examples of how we’ve evolved for the better in the past few years, and our new office is the next step in that evolution.
As our sales volume increases, it puts us in an even better position to negotiate with carriers to secure the best deals for our brokers.
Yet, DBL Center will never forget our roots and will never neglect the personalized service we have offered for more than 40 years. We may grow larger, with nicer offices and more personnel, but we won’t ever become a “big box” insurance wholesaler.
We maintain true to David Cohen’s vision of a “boutique” insurance agency dedicated to serving our brokers, even as we leverage today’s technology to do so in new and more effective ways.
Drop us a line and let us know how we can serve you today.
As an insurance agent, you understand the intricacies of the employee benefits you sell, including maternity leave benefits available through Paid Family Leave (PFL) in New York. You can show customers how to file a DBL or PFL claim, tell them when their disability leave benefits will kick in, and how much money they are eligible to receive.
When you don’t know the answer, The DBL Center Ltd is just a phone call, email, or text away.
We sell employee benefits packages to the decision-makers, but employees don’t always receive the information they need to make important life decisions. For instance, maternity leave benefits may be a deciding factor in how soon a parent returns to the workplace, or even whether a couple can afford to have a child or not.
As an industry, we have an obligation to ensure that information on PFL and other benefits is being passed on to our customers – the company executives, HR departments, and the employees we serve.
An eye-opening article in Glamour magazine shares a “worst-case scenario” of what can happen when an employee doesn’t understand their maternity leave benefits.
Like any employee would do, the writer of the article spoke to her boss regarding her maternity leave benefits. She found out that she was eligible to receive 60 percent of her salary through her company’s short-term disability insurance plan. (The writer lived in Florida, so DBL was not a “given” as it is here in New York.)
She also learned she was entitled to 12 weeks off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which protects employees’ jobs while they are out on leave after having a baby or to care for a sick, aging, or disabled family member.
However, the writer never thought to ask (and her employer didn’t volunteer the information) if her insurance paid for a 12-week leave. When she realized it didn’t, it was too late. The couple’s savings had run out. She began freelancing when her son was only four weeks old to supplement her husband’s income and make the money her family needed to live.
The story resonated strongly with us here at The DBL Center, as a family-friendly company with many employees who are also parents. It underscored the importance of educating not just brokers, but the employers and employees who use PFL benefits.
As a broker, you can (and should) take steps to educate your customers on maternity leave / PFL and other employee benefits. You’ll become a trusted resource, and the company they turn to when they want advice on other insurance-related topics.
If you aren’t already being proactive about educating your customers about paid family leave, here are some steps you can take.
There is nothing like making yourself available to your customers, in person, to answer their questions and explain their employee benefits packages. Set aside an hour of time to host a live seminar with the HR department and any employees who would like to hear about their options for employee benefits.
You can also reach out to your customers without ever leaving your office. Host a webinar detailing the new PFL benefits, as well as any other ancillary benefits your customers receive.
Invest in low-cost, cloud-based software like Zoom or GoToMeeting to host webinars for up to 100 people. Or your organization may already have videoconferencing and webinar software already in place. Most of these programs are easy to set up and simple to use.
Hosting a webinar makes it easy to accommodate the schedules of multiple employees and eliminates travel time and expenses. You may even be able to provide recordings of the webinar, afterwards, for employees who could not attend.
A personalized touch, either through live meetings or webinars, is often best to connect with your customers and upsell enriched DBL or ancillary benefits.
But you can make the information your customers need available to them when they need it by launching a resource center or blog on your website. Providing written information explaining the differences between PFL and FMLA and the extent of PFL benefits will help establish your insurance agency as a trusted resource.
You can even get creative and produce videos that you post on your website as well as on YouTube and Vimeo.
Not only do these articles and videos deliver the information your customers need when it’s convenient for them. It can also give your search engine rankings a boost, making it easier for people in your area to find you when they do a Google search for an insurance agency.
When it comes to marketing, it’s a win-win.
PFL is so important on so many levels, and it is crucial for employers and employees to understand the benefits. It is the responsibility of brokers to educate their customers, and the Glamour article details what can happen if insurance brokers don’t take a proactive stance. Employees don’t necessarily know the right questions to ask to make the right decisions for their financial future.
Fortunately, what is good for employee retention and for working families is also good for your bottom line. And customer education in the digital age is easier than ever.
If you can be the resource your customers need, your business will continue to grow through the sale of enriched benefits packages and word-of-mouth referrals.
Corporate Synergies is a full-service insurance brokerage, providing health, ancillary benefits, P&C coverage, and DBL / PFL for companies with as many as 10,000 employees.
“We have about 600 customers total and we have office in Melville, Long Island; New York City, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida,” says Peter Tonna, vice president and benefits consultant for Corporate Synergies. “We primarily operate in the middle market, serving businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees, but we also have customers with 5,000 to 10,000 employees, especially in the fields of not for profits, education, and financial services.”
Digging Deep into Practical Matters Concerning PFL
Experts in the field of health and ancillary benefits, as well as DBL, Corporate Synergies has relied on DBL Center’s knowledge and expertise when it came to navigating the often-muddy waters of New York State’s new PFL coverage. “The DBL Center has come to us many times with educational materials to help us understand the new law and how it’s implemented. If I have questions, I can pick up the phone and Mike [DBL Center President Michael Cohen] will explain it,” says Tonna.
“It’s one thing to talk about PFL in broad strokes, but when you get into the weeds, talking about a specific situation or a real-life experience, Mike has helped explain the differences and overlap between PFL and FMLA in ways we can convey to our customers,” he continues. “Most importantly, DBL Center gives us ways to make sure that knowledge and insight is communicated to the employees and HR directors.”
Analyzing Ancillary Benefits
Corporate Synergies also leverages DBL Center’s relationships with carriers to get the best rates by bundling DBL and ancillary benefits. “We promote dental and group life as the power players for ancillary benefits,” Tonna says. “Voluntary group life is typically low cost, and employees many not have to go through medical underwriting, which saves time and hassles.”
Corporate Synergies and DBL Center: A Mutual Focus on Service
With a new website focused on educating customers about the ever-changing landscape of employee benefits, Corporate Synergies shares DBL Center’s philosophy of providing exemplary service and consultative selling to drive repeat business and referrals.
With offices just minutes away from each other in Melville, The DBL Center and Corporate Synergies have maintained a relationship any business owner dreams of. The DBL Center is more than just a wholesaler for Corporate Synergies, but a trusted partner, sharing advice and referrals.
“The whole DBL team is local, knowledgeable and experienced,” Tonna says. “And that translates into increased value for my customers. My customers are the most important thing in my world, and I want to make sure they are educated and informed. DBL Center has been a great resource to help us cut through the fog and confusion surrounding DBL and PFL in New York.”
Brokers: Is Your Insurance Firm Ready to Be Next?
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If you have a unique and interesting story to tell about your relationship with DBL Center or how we have helped you grow your business, contact us now to be featured as our next “Broker Spotlight.”